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The Beetle and the Song

MS Penarts is a published author of various mini novels and poetry books.



“The beetle and the song” tells the story of a young recluse, then living with her paternal grandparents, who tries to answer the mind-boggling mystery of her childhood through painstakingly recounting her foggy memories with her grandpa. Equipped with a song her grandpa used to sing with her, she had finally proved her suspicions to be true but left to struggle internally afterwards in deciding what to do with it. Will she dig deeper to gain unimaginable riches or will she cherish what she loved the most by letting go of what she could attain?

Product details

  • ASIN : B091NKZD3T
  • Publication date : April 3, 2021
  • Language : English
  • File size : 23622 KB
  • Text-to-Speech : Enabled
  • Enhanced typesetting : Not Enabled
  • X-Ray : Not Enabled
  • Word Wise : Enabled
  • Print length : 156 pages
  • Page numbers source ISBN : B093B2L7Q6
  • Lending : Not Enabled


Here he lies

If you would venture into our farm nowadays and walk into the ankle-deep mud, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you that those very muddy fields were once brimming with golden grains waiting to be sickled. As I am retracing my memories of it, I couldn’t help but feel sad and think of my stern grandfather. It’s more than two years since his last breath, but his soul seemed to linger still at the small parcel of land he called alternate home.

My cousins seldom visit here for fear of seeing a ghost. I, myself, have witnessed a whitish thin air roaming, mostly circling, our hut. Only the back side of the fence still stands today, and the hut that I had known before were reduced to ashes and blackened residue of once a sanctuary of my childhood. Two of the mango trees fell down, but their roots still held the earth close hoping it could still revive its body after the massive fall. They still bear fruits. The surroundings are still full of dragonflies, which my eldest is adamant to chase. Looking her jump and run around reminds me of my tiny self.

I look around the ashen remains and climb the trunk of the fallen tree to sit. After settling, I took a deep generous breath and hoping beyond hope to smell the familiar unique scent of leaves mingling with the smell of the earth after the rain. It’s the season of rice planting, but I see no helpers anywhere about nor green seedlings. Even the water canals had dried up. This place looked dead and still…like his owner.

He frequently communicated with me in my sleep. In the dream, he was always sitting on the tree trunk, the same trunk that I am sitting now. He would say not a word, just staring at me with those sad eyes that seem to be conveying something he could not say. He stared and stared until I woke up, still feeling the burn of his stare. It was always that dream…always. And I will always sit on my bed, contemplating what it is that he wanted to say or have to done. Am I supposed to protect or to gain?

The balikbayan boxes that tenanted in my room before were either disposed or put beside the stairs along with the things that the folks haven’t use. My room is still full of sketches and childish drawings, which my eldest drew with pride. Maybe if she gets older a bit I will teach her how to rhyme verses. The panel of woods that covered all sides of my room escaped decay. It was still intact and looked sturdy. Maybe that is why my grandfather chosen it as caskets for his treasure.

I looked around to find the lone stool, which I pull as quietly as I could towards the east panel. I tap the left side wood beside the window and it lurches forward to reveal a compartment behind. There I found heaps of enveloped papers all grayed and smelled dirt. I opened one envelop and pulled out a formal document and a drawing.

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The drawing depicted a scene at the farm during the times it is still bursting in greenish splendor, accentuated with blue and green dragonflies, and with the golden beetle at its center. The song that my grandfather scribbled in it had faded a little but still readable…Inang is still visited by numerous bank managers, and seldom, by the warlock friend. The ebony wood disappeared with Tatang’s demise. A lot are still throwing indecent proposals at us, some even go as far as presenting a plan to get the one item in the museum’s custody, but we are saying no time and again, somehow hoping they would stop pestering us. My grandmother would preach us to be modest more in the light of our circumstances. Maybe, just maybe if they see that we are nothing extraordinary and without any unaccounted wealth, they would cease their unfounded claims. We would be at peace. Tatang will be at peace, at last.

Because I know why he always visits me, why he is always sitting on that tree trunk, always guarding with all his might. I would sit by the rocking chair, like my grandfather used to do, and would glance down at two young ladies doing their thing. Sometimes I would sing those nursery rhymes, and sometimes the song…

Starry, starry night, so marvelous when dark

with your glossiest star, I had marked

where more glittering stars had been put to bed

to the spot where the beetle would led

More often than not, my youngest would cut me and sing—

Stali, stali nay, doli ngertulo

wever sing seng song

wawan weda thong

tu beri berii wong

Then, she would look at me expectantly and I’ll smile. I would continue the song, this time with the eldest…

Starry, starry night, when the dipper is bright

come with your pickaxe, be out of sight

come dig around the trio trees

where greenish hearts dwell and the bees

come dig and dig until the beetle meet

the white stars above against where it sits

Then, we would sing all together for the last part—

Starry, starry night, please heed my words

the moment you open the boards

you will find the sparkling hoards

that will make you an overlord—

I know, I know, it is marvelous

to have your hands among the precious

but please, I implore you, do not

break the peace where I will rot.

Then sing the song again until granny step at the porch with both her hands in her hips and pretend to be angry. From a distance, we are just an ordinary family of three generations…as ordinary as what we want to be portrayed of. We are all actors in the play that Tatang has written for our survival. We will all survive like my grandfather wanted us to. I perched at my usual spot beside the malunggay tree after putting my children into sleep, and look deep into bluish dark space. The sky seemed blurred and misty to me, or is it my eyes?

There were just random blobs of luminous dots that night, and from nowhere I saw a thing flying towards me. A black dot at first, but when it gets nearer it became a black mast. It turned left after it reached the lamp post and began circling our house, in a wide circle at first, then its orbit became smaller and smaller as it became closer and closer our house until it disappeared from behind. I sat up suddenly and made my way into the house and up the stairs. The flying black mast was circling still until it found its way in the middle cornerstone, where its home nestled. Yawning and tired myself, I waded among the cluttered toys and papers and fell into deep sleep. In my dreams, Tatang was in his usual post at the tree trunk. The golden beetle was freely strutting beside him. Afterwards, he began to sing…

Starry, starry night, when the dipper is bright

come with your pickaxe, be out of sight

come dig around the trio trees

where greenish hearts dwell and the bees

come dig and dig until the beetle meet

the white stars above against where it sits—

I cut him off and asked, “Tatang! Do you want me to dig where you’re sitting?”

He smiled, in his saddest smile, and stared more in the same stare that drives me wondering and wondering in my waking hours.

As my habits dictate, I sang the next line but did some minor changes…

Starry, starry night, I will heed your words

the moment I open the boards

I will really find the sparkling hoards

that will make me an overlord—

I know, I know, it is marvelous

to have my hands among the precious

but please, I implore you, do not

make me break the place where I would rot.

And he smiled even sadder, but with tears in his eyes.

© 2021 MS Penarts

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